Stem Cell Institute President's Early Departure Troubling, Say Consumer Advocates

17 Apr, 2007, 01:00 ET from Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights

    SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dr. Zach
 Hall's announcement today that he will step down as president and chief
 executive of the state's stem cell institute two months earlier than
 expected is troubling, said the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
 (FTCR).
     Hall announced in December that he would retire at the end of June and
 a search for a successor is underway. In a letter today to members of the
 stem cell oversight committee and his colleagues at the stem cell institute
 Hall cited health concerns as a factor in the decision. He has recently
 been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
     But Hall also said the decision to leave was prompted by the
 "exceedingly contentious and occasionally personal tone" of a stem cell
 working group meeting last week. "It is in both my best interest and that
 of the Institute for me to step down at this time," Hall wrote.
     "Hall's health should be a primary concern," said John M. Simpson,
 FTCR's Stem Cell Project Director, "but clearly there are substantial
 disagreements at stake here. It's never a good sign when an agency's chief
 executive leaves after a policy dispute."
     FTCR noted that during the California Institute for Regenerative
 Medicine's existence, tension has surfaced from time to time between Hall
 and Robert Klein, chairman of the board's oversight committee.
     "Hall brought outstanding scientific leadership to the stem cell
 institute," said Simpson. "Much of what has been accomplished to this point
 is because of him. He had planned to move on to well deserved retirement in
 June. I'm sorry and worried that he felt it necessary to leave now."
     Under Hall's leadership the institute drafted its scientific strategic
 plan and has approved around $130 million in research and training grants.
 The next phase of grants are earmarked to build shared research facilities.
 One of the subjects at the contentious facilities working group meeting
 last week was the process to develop specifications for grants to build
 major research facilities around the state.
     Proposition 71, passed overwhelmingly in 2004, created the California
 Institute for Regenerative Medicine to sell $3 billion in bonds over 10
 years to fund stem cell research. With the bond financing, $6 billion of
 taxpayers' money is at stake.
     The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a Santa Monica,
 CA-based nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization. Visit our
 website at http://www.consumerwatchdog.org.
     Contact: John M. Simpson (310) 392-0522, ext. 317, (310) 292-1902
 
 

SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights
    SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dr. Zach
 Hall's announcement today that he will step down as president and chief
 executive of the state's stem cell institute two months earlier than
 expected is troubling, said the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
 (FTCR).
     Hall announced in December that he would retire at the end of June and
 a search for a successor is underway. In a letter today to members of the
 stem cell oversight committee and his colleagues at the stem cell institute
 Hall cited health concerns as a factor in the decision. He has recently
 been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
     But Hall also said the decision to leave was prompted by the
 "exceedingly contentious and occasionally personal tone" of a stem cell
 working group meeting last week. "It is in both my best interest and that
 of the Institute for me to step down at this time," Hall wrote.
     "Hall's health should be a primary concern," said John M. Simpson,
 FTCR's Stem Cell Project Director, "but clearly there are substantial
 disagreements at stake here. It's never a good sign when an agency's chief
 executive leaves after a policy dispute."
     FTCR noted that during the California Institute for Regenerative
 Medicine's existence, tension has surfaced from time to time between Hall
 and Robert Klein, chairman of the board's oversight committee.
     "Hall brought outstanding scientific leadership to the stem cell
 institute," said Simpson. "Much of what has been accomplished to this point
 is because of him. He had planned to move on to well deserved retirement in
 June. I'm sorry and worried that he felt it necessary to leave now."
     Under Hall's leadership the institute drafted its scientific strategic
 plan and has approved around $130 million in research and training grants.
 The next phase of grants are earmarked to build shared research facilities.
 One of the subjects at the contentious facilities working group meeting
 last week was the process to develop specifications for grants to build
 major research facilities around the state.
     Proposition 71, passed overwhelmingly in 2004, created the California
 Institute for Regenerative Medicine to sell $3 billion in bonds over 10
 years to fund stem cell research. With the bond financing, $6 billion of
 taxpayers' money is at stake.
     The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a Santa Monica,
 CA-based nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization. Visit our
 website at http://www.consumerwatchdog.org.
     Contact: John M. Simpson (310) 392-0522, ext. 317, (310) 292-1902
 
 SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights